Kolkata, Aug 8 (Calcutta Tube/IBNS): Unlike developed nations, India’s issue with climate change is an acute dearth of knowledge about the harms of CO2 said Andy Pag, the man who has set out to travel the world on a ‘biotruck’ that runs on clean fuel, here on Saturday.
“But the good thing is this can be fixed by spreading the awareness and not repeating the mistakes we have made in Europe and America,” said Pag, who came to the MCKV Institute of Engineering (MCKVIE) in Liluah to ‘talk to the students’.
Pag is not the stereotype activist who goes around ‘spreading awareness’; in his own words, he is just “attempting to drive around the world emitting less than 2 tonnes of CO2, and discovering how other people are cutting their footprint.”
Two tonnes is the amount of CO2 emissions G20 nations have pledged to go down to per person by 2050, in order to reduce the risk of a 5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures from 50 per cent to 3 per cent.
Pag said he became hooked on to climate change through his work in the Arctic Survey project and realised, ‘the problem is a lot bigger than it looks’.
“I became conscious of my own hypocrisy. I saw what I was doing was contrary to what I knew was right,” he said.
He set out on his journey from his home in the United Kingdom in September last year, and made his way through Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and came to India in December through the Wagha border, travelling more than 22,000 kilometres.
His stay in India was marred however, when he was arrested at Ajmer in Rajasthan for carrying a satellite phone, though he was let off on bail and everything cleared up eventually, the whole fiasco meant he had to spend far more time here than planned, he said.
“Travelling in India is not easy,” he said with a smile, “But it is very rewarding.”
On campus, Pag, himself a student of mechanical and electrical engineering, hosted a presentation for the students and talked to them about the ‘real deal of green technology’ and stressed how difficult the challenge ahead was.
“Students can do so much more, you know. They are the future. When they join companies they can use this knowledge and push for those very hard decisions that are very important. This is like planting a seed,” he said.
“Today, there is no doubt that there is man-made climate change. But the problem is that there is no consent among scientists on the extent of harm it can cause,” he said.
“This is what anti-environmentalists, so to speak, are using to their advantage,” he added.
He said, “India has a high stake in solving the climate change problem. It’s an agricultural economy. So of course a lot depends on the climate here.”
“And it suffers from poverty. As we run out of fossil fuels and the prices go up, there’s going to be rationing. And so the need to come up with an affordable source of sustainable energy is very high here,” he added.
According to Pag, one has to think local when thinking about alternative energy. For example, India has great potential for solar energy but the same cannot be said for a lot of other nations, he asserted.
In India his favourite place was Amritsar, but he has travelled quite a lot in the last few months here. Pag and his ‘truck’ have been to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur Rajasthan, Pune, Goa, Patna and even Nepal for two months, he said.
In four days he is about to leave for Indonesia; and then Australia, South America and the U.S. are on his route, he informed.
Pag drives a 21-year-old Mercedes RV (recreational vehicle) of sorts, which, after a plethora of modifications and conformations, including six solar panels on the roof, a two tank engine and more, is not exactly very recreational.
In Europe his fuel was supplied by restaurants, who gladly gave him the used vegetable oil they would have otherwise had to pay to get disposed of. In Asia, bio-fuel companies like Emami, Royal Energy and Gomti Biotech came forward to sponsor him, Pag said.
He said travelling by road, even without the idea of adhering to the carbon constraint, is strenuous; He holds his sanity together through his photography, zest for life and his sense of humour.
Pag, whose expedition is documented extensively on his website www.biotruckexpedition.com and also on Twitter at www.twitter.com/biotruck, claimed one of reasons to come to MCKVIE was to get his dream solar-powered-disco, inside his truck, up and running.
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By Divyanshu Dutta Roy/IBNS
(Photos by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)